Kolkata, 02 Jan 2019 20:16 IST
The film depicts the journey of Nabin Chandra Das, maker of the sweet, rosogolla.
It cannot be denied that the iconic sweet of Bengal, rosogolla, is not only a part of Bengali heritage but also part of a collective emotion. A film on how rosogolla was invented is meant to be emotional, with cultural references that can enlighten and thrill the audience. However, Pavel’s Rosogolla hardly achieves that goal with a screenplay that feels like a staged drama for the most part.
The film depicts the journey of Nabin Chandra Das (Ujaan Ganguly), the maker of rosogolla. Nabin lives at his uncle’s place with his widowed mother (Bidipta Chakraborty). Nabin’s originality as a cook and a sweets maker is revealed in the beginning. His uncle is opposed to his profession, but Nabin is adamant of turning into a sweets maker. Nabin’s mother stands by his dream despite the dire circumstances and finds him a job at Kalidas Indra’s (Rajatabha Dutta) famous sweet shop.
Keen on adding his own creations to the sweets at Kalidas’s shop, Nabin soon encounters Khirod Moni (Abantika Biswas) — the daughter of Bhola Moira, who brings him into a false position and asks him to redeem himself by making a sweet according to her description. Nabin’s journey towards making that sweet attracts him foes and friends. He breaks down with fate intervening in his journey every time and pulls him up as Khirod reminds him of his promises and dreams before he finally achieves his goal.
The film is steeped in melodrama and overacting by the lead actor and prevents the audience from immersing into the experience the film wishes to offer. Probably Nabin was a simpleton besides being a dreamer and a determined soul.
However, in the film, Ujaan’s act and Pavel’s direction both turns the character into a buffoon at times. It is hard to connect when Nabin is suddenly dignified after his success and switches avatars, which is all over the place. His characterisation is extremely flawed and hence, prevents the film from inspiring the audience.
Next, it seems that the director had jotted down certain episodes of Nabin’s journey and incorporated them in the scripts and hence, the flow of the plot doesn’t seem to be organic. Nabin suddenly starts getting mesmerised with Khirod just because he is jobless and is allowed to play the khol in Bhola Moira’s house.
Nabin’s internal conflicts and burning passion are hardly translated onto the screen. From the film, he rather appears to be a destiny’s child, goaded and guided by the right people at the right moments in his life.
Nitish Roy and Babon Kar both have worked hard to recreate the old Calcutta of 1860. The lane where Nabin Chandra’s business eventually flourishes looks straight out of painting with gas lights and old vintage carriages. Pavel has brought in historical figures such as Bhim Nag, the maker of the sweet for Lady Canning [first vicereine of India as the wife of Charles Canning], folk singer Bhola Moira, composer and singer Rupchand Pakshi who were contemporaneous of Nabin Chandra into the plot, lending a feeling of rich history being incorporated.
However, the ambience of Malkaan Jaan’s kotha appears to be quite superficial. Her performance, while she performs the thumri, doesn’t seem to be engaging at all.
Many sequences including the one in which Nabin manages to outwit the sons-in-law of a rich Zamindar house by feeding his creation Aam Sandesh and the one of Nabin asking for rent from the wrestler (Chiranjeet Chakraborty) appear to be dragging. Also, the chapter of all the milk-men suddenly adhering to Nabin’s word, giving up their unethical ways at trading, appears quite lame as well.
Ujaan Ganguly fails to bring in harmony in his performance and the character doesn’t fall into the zone of an eccentric who is a genius when it comes making art. Neither are his determination and innocence capable of tugging at the strings of heart.
Abantika Biswas as Khirod Moni is rather impressive as the bold yet loving and dedicated wife of Nabin. The reviewer is of the opinion that the director invested more realistic views in sketching the character of Khirod, the daughter of the sweet maker, who is an authentic judge of quality sweets, as well as loves to talk in rhymes, continuing the tradition of her father. Her emotions of frustrations are more real than the melodramatic portrayal of Ganguly.
Bidipta Chakraborty as the widowed affectionate and stern mother and Kharaj Mukherjee as the dedicated friend, who sticks through thick and thin with Nabin Chandra deliver endearing performances. Shantilal Mukherjee as the effeminate drug addict is quite dramatic and Kaushik Sen too makes his presence felt with his brief appearance.
Aparajita Adhya seems quite adept at taking her character into her control. She exudes her doting side, and is subtly comic. As Chiranjeet Chakraborty himself, the reviewer is also clueless why the actor was cast as a palwan (wrestler) in the film. It is sad to see a fine actor as Rajatabha Dutta to deliver all the dialogues without any kind of voice modulation.
The sequences of songs 'Khodar Banda' or 'Tapur Tupur' are some of the finest moments of the film. Especially with 'Tapur Tupur', the director managed to bring the nostalgic romantic charm of the old days. Arnab Dutta’s composition and rendition of 'Tapur Tupur' too deserve special mention for its music arrangement.
Late Kalika Prasad’s music adds a lot in various sequences of the film that is missed out by the director in terms of screenplay.
Rather than telling an inspiring story, Rosogolla aims at providing light entertainment that hardly engages. The film could have been a poetic creation if the acts were toned down and the director led the plot to progress with an easy flow.
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